Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Mission of the Marital Caste

I think the best idea in Kay Hymowitz' Marriage and Caste in America is that higher class parents see their main job as educating and developing their children, while parents in the lower classes see their main job as simply assuring that their children have the necessities of living. Middle class mothers, especially, organize their lives around what Hymowitz calls The Mission. The mission to educate the children becomes the organizing principle of middle class households.

Hymowitz says the importance of the Mission has multiplied in recent years, as our economy is more and more based on knowledge and the sustained capacity to learn.

When you tie together the Mission, the knowledge-based economy, and the caste-like advantage of the married classes,

... the reason for that Mozart or Rafi tape in the morning, and that bedtime story at night, for finding out all you can about a teacher in the fall and for Little League in the spring, for all the books, crib mobiles, trips to the museum, and limits on TV ...

looks not so much like a fussy lifestyle as it does the foundation of the next ruling class.


Carol Howard Merritt said...

This "Mission" has a profound effect on our society. Education has such a premium in our culture now. Young adults go into incredible debt to get the schooling, but is it really worth it? Too often, they can't pay off their degrees with the money that they make at the end of it.

Judith Warner's "Perfect Madness" gives a good glimpse of this Mission phenomenon in my neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

how timely...i just sent off for information about a local montessori pre-school for my son....who is 15 months i a cliche????

Anonymous said...

I completely agree and find myself working my plan for my daughter's since the moment they were born. Everything I do in my own life is geared toward them moving up not just monetarily but in social consciousness, health, family status and family legacy.

I have even planned some down time for them, a few years to "find themselves" and see that my plan for them is the right one. I remind them often that "no one, not even they, will get in my way of their success."

Only half jokingly trying hard not to be a helicopter parent but not apologizing for wanting better for my girls